Tom Petty: Going Home

The lines between documentary and electronic press kit get a little blurry in "Tom Petty: Going Home," but the show remains a superbly produced and edited spec that will act nicely as a symbiotic horse to Petty's recently released "Greatest Hits" carriage.

Band: Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Stan Lynch, Howie Epstein, Ron Blair.

The lines between documentary and electronic press kit get a little blurry in “Tom Petty: Going Home,” but the show remains a superbly produced and edited spec that will act nicely as a symbiotic horse to Petty’s recently released “Greatest Hits” carriage.

Since Petty’s career has spanned more than 20 years — 10 albums with his band, the Heartbreakers, one triple-platinum solo record and two albums as a member of the Traveling Wilburys — there is much ground to cover. Spec manages to encompass 36 songs — from an early ’72 performance to his latest release, “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”– and to document some of the events that have influenced his craft.

In its coverage of events in the life of the Florida native, everything is portrayed to show Petty as the justifiable hero, from conflicts with his record company over the recommended retail price of his record to his house burning, which provided the inspiration for his monster hit “I Won’t Back Down.”

However, darker incidents are often given just a sentence when a deeper insight is required: How Petty smashed his hand out of “frustration” while recording “Southern Accents,” and how he filed for bankruptcy and was sued by his label.

All band members, including former bass player Ron Blair, are interviewed as they recount anecdotes and compliment each other, while non-members are shown on vid format. Was this intended as a separation device or did they run out of money?

Without a doubt, the stars of this spec are the direction (Jonathan K. Bendis) and editing (Bendis and Charlie Singer). As “American Girl” starts, Petty is shown and heard talking with cohort Mike Campbell as they remix a rough version in the studio; it then segues into a live version and back-and-forth, all while keeping the song in sync. They utilize this technique throughout, but refrain from gratuitous use, adding a different dimension to what could have been a stoic presentation of the music.

The latter half clarifies the story of the formation of the Traveling Wilburys, accompanied by never-before-seen footage of the late Roy Orbison in action with the supergroup at the studio. There’s an eerie feel to watching the Texas Tenor, not too long before his death, looking so vulnerable and seemingly unaware of the camera. The piece isn’t without humor: George Harrison refers to the Beatles as “my old group.”

Petty is best known for his music, of course, and that alone is enough reason to watch, but filmmaker Bendis was given a chance to delve deeper into a talented soul. Instead, he opted to just skim the surface.

Tom Petty: Going Home

(Sun., 9-10:30 p.m., Disney Channel)

Production: Filmed and taped by A Gone Gator Prods. in association with the Disney Channel. Executive producer, Tony Dimitriades; producer, Stephanie Bennet; director-writer, Jonathan K. Bendis.

Crew: Camera, Martin Coppen; editors, Bendis, Charlie Singer; sound, Chuck Fitzpatrick; art director, Roy Rede.

Cast: Band: Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Stan Lynch, Howie Epstein, Ron Blair.

More TV

  • What to Watch on TV This

    What to Watch on TV This Week: ‘Picard' Premieres and 'Shrill' Returns

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Star Trek: Picard” beams into existence on CBS All Access and “Shrill” returns [...]

  • SAG Awards 2020: What You Didn't

    SAG Awards 2020: From Charlize Theron to 'Parasite,' What You Didn't See on TV

    Brad Pitt made a crack about his marriages. Robert De Niro got political. And Jennifer Aniston talked about appearing in a commercial for Bob’s Big Boy. Those were just some of thing that happened on stage at the SAG Awards that were broadcast on TNT/TBS on Sunday night. However, Variety was inside the Shrine Auditorium [...]

  • Edges Unknown

    TCB, Cineflix, All3Media Announce Sales Ahead of NATPE Miami

    Miami’s NATPE market kicks off on Tuesday, but deal announcements are already landing. London-based TCB Media Rights has sold 130 hours of content to Latin America, Cineflix and National Geographic Latin America closed a deal for four titles, and Discovery Latin America picked up popular makeover format “10 Years Younger” from All3Media. TCB’s 130 Hours [...]

  • U.K. Broadcaster Channel 5 Readies Thomas

    U.K. Broadcaster Channel 5 Readies Thomas Markle Documentary

    ViacomCBS-backed U.K. broadcaster Channel 5 will air a 90-minute documentary on Meghan Markle’s father Thomas Markle. Markle and her husband Prince Harry sparked a global media frenzy earlier this month with their decision not to continue as senior members of the British Royal Family. Buckingham Palace announced that the couple are to lose their royal [...]

  • Tony Hall BBC Director General

    BBC Boss Tony Hall Lands at U.K.'s National Gallery

    BBC director general Tony Hall has been appointed chair of the board of trustees of the National Gallery. The executive, who has served on the Gallery’s board since November, takes over as chair from Sir John Kingman, who has been interim chair since Hannah Rothschild stood down from the role in September. Hall said: “The [...]

  • Fox TV Stations Greenlight 'Central Ave'

    Fox TV Stations Greenlight 'Central Ave' From Will Packer, Debmar-Mercury

    Fox Television Stations has ordered the weekly entertainment news magazine “Central Ave,” which hails from prolific film and TV producer Will Packer and Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury. Debmar-Mercury and Will Packer Media will produce two half-hour shows per week of “Central Ave,” which tackles pop culture and other topics from a “socially conscious and diverse lens,” per [...]

  • Frontrunners Emerge As BBC's Tony Hall

    Frontrunners Emerge as BBC Boss Tony Hall Set to Leave Broadcasting Behind

    As the U.K. industry reacts to news of Tony Hall’s intention to depart the BBC this July, top-level executives including Charlotte Moore and Tim Davie as well as external contenders such as Channel 4’s Alex Mahon are beginning to emerge. Variety understands that Lord Hall, who has headed the BBC for seven years as director [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content